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Squeaky-Wheel IT vs. Enterprise IT: A Better Approach to Information Technology for Community Hospitals

It is time to think of IT differently—not as a business function but as a business partner with the same business objectives as your healthcare organization as a whole. That means strategic business goals should drive IT decisions. In healthcare organizations, the ultimate business goals are delivering superior patient care and improving outcomes. IT exists principally to support those and other goals.

Understanding IT in terms of a business partnership drives down costs. The main drivers of IT costs can be a “hard sell” by vendors to executives and physicians...


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Community Hospitals Are Economic Engines. How Are You Fueling Yours?

Metaphors commonly used to describe community hospitals underscore their importance to the regions they serve. They’ve been called economic engines, cornerstones of the community, and, by Forbes, the “financial glue” that holds communities together. Community hospitals tend to be one of the top employers in town, so when one closes, there are more consequences than traveling farther for hospital care.

Still, community hospitals are closing at a dispiriting rate—87 shut down in 26 states from January 2010 to July 2018, according to the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program. Countless...


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Hospital Culture

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Evaluating and Improving Your Hospital’s Culture

Organizational culture is made up of shared values, beliefs, traditions, attitudes and behaviors. All together, these cultural elements shape a hospital’s workplace environment and affect employee satisfaction and organizational success. Culture is pervasive and, like air, subject to quality changes that aren’t immediately apparent. Culture can become stale or even toxic. That’s why periodic cultural assessments are critical to your hospital’s health.

Cultural Assessment

One way healthcare leaders can gauge cultural health is by conducting informal walk-throughs, looking for cultural clues like that savvy job applicant. It is fairly easy...


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Rural Matters Podcast Features Karen Barber & Jim Kendrick

Rural Matters, a podcast featuring issues important to Rural America, recently spoke to Karen Barber, CEO of Yoakum Community Hospital, a 25-bed critical access hospital in Texas, and Jim Kendrick, president and CEO of Community Hospital Corporation, a non-profit whose mission for 22 years has been sustaining healthcare in rural markets.

Kendrick shared that it is often difficult to recruit enough physicians to serve the community. Barber explained that her facility recently had to close their labor and delivery department as a result of an aging population, low volume for deliveries,...


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Rural America Needs Critical Access Hospitals

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Rural America Needs Critical Access Hospitals

By guest author Paul Lee, Senior Partner & Founder, Strategic Health Care

National policy in support of rural healthcare has been lacking for more than a decade. Critical access hospitals (CAHs), in particular, are struggling due to inattention at the federal level.

While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last month released its first strategy to improve healthcare in rural America, the eight-page document did not include specific policies. It states that CMS will “apply a rural lens to CMS programs and policies,” but whether this translates into...


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Top Concerns of Community Hospital CEOs

Asked to rank their most pressing concerns, most hospital CEOs and leaders put financial challenges at the top of the list, followed by governmental mandates and personnel shortages. In deeper discussions, though, it is clear that their most concerning issues intertwine in complex ways. While there are no simple solutions, this interconnection means that improvements in one area often bring about improvements in other areas. Faced with market- and reform-driven changes, wise leaders consider each challenge in its broader context for effective planning that takes all relevant factors into account.

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Hospital Business Planning Best Practices

Vital to an organization’s future, a business plan is a framework outlining the steps for financial and operational success. For many hospitals, this process has occurred at five-year intervals tied to strategic planning efforts. However, in today’s healthcare environment marked by ongoing industry, reimbursement, and market shifts, development of an annual business plan offers leaders a greater measure of security and flexibility to manage change.

Best practices for your hospital’s business planning include:

Align business planning efforts with strategic initiatives

Getting started, associate business planning efforts with strategic goals and...


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The Far-reaching Impact of Your Hospital’s Cost Report

Ever-expanding in complexity, cost reports influence current and future reimbursement levels for your hospital. Think of a cost report as an annual report with numbers instead of words. Far-reaching in scope, mistakes can result in lost revenue that may profoundly affect your hospital’s sustainability and ability to effectively serve patients.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires Medicare certified hospitals and other Medicare reimbursable provider facilities to file cost reports annually that identify the costs and charges related to facility Medicare reimbursable activities. Acting as annual reconciliations, these...


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Physician-Hospital Engagement and Alignment: Healthy Practices

Community hospitals can strengthen bonds with physicians through proactive engagement that is genuine and mutually beneficial. Foremost, it’s optimal to consider the physician point of view, from their clinical practice and other commitments, to perks that may drive growth strategies long-term for all parties.

When physicians understand how working together with the hospital can help them provide better care for their patients, it’s a win-win. Among the benefits cited by physicians and healthcare system leaders in a HealthLeaders survey on physician alignment, positive outcomes can be:

Greater confidence in hospital leadership...

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Turn Around Efforts Start with a Look at Operations

Hospital leaders may recognize the need for improvement but may not know where to turn. Even before a hospital shows signs of financial distress, the responsible action is to take a close look at areas of operations. Since operations span the entire hospital, a head-to-toe operational assessment may be warranted to fully address financial and performance issues.

Taking a thorough look at operations may seem daunting. Consider starting with an evaluation of outsourced contracts; some may have been in place for years and can be renegotiated or even eliminated. Below...


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